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Revised plans for Kanuga, Highland Lake pushed back to spring

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Revisions of state transportation plans to widen Kanuga and Highland Lake roads won't be ready until next spring, the NCDOT says.

After public meetings on the proposals and receiving input from residents, property owners and elected officials, engineers are looking alternatives and plan to come back next spring with other options, NCDOT spokesman David Uchiyama said in a response to a request for an update from the Hendersonville Lightning.

"NCDOT is looking at various ways to reduce to footprint of improving Kanuga Road, including the possibility of eliminating 4-foot bike lanes," he said. "We are aiming to present revised proposals on Kanuga in the spring."

On Highland Lake Road, Uchiyama confirmed that the agency is looking at other options there as well.

"We are addressing concerns presented by Pinecrest (Presbyterian) Church and greenway opponents," he said. "We have informed Flat Rock that we would like to present multiple options for them to review in the spring."

The Flat Rock Village Council has heard from opponents of the Highland Lake Road widening at its last several meetings. The board voted in August to endorse the widening, with Vice Mayor Nick Weedman and Council member Anne Coletta voting no. Members of Historic Flat Rock Inc. have appealed to the Village Council to reverse its support of the widening, which members say is not in keeping with the historic character of the village.

Pinecrest church leaders have said the widening would eliminate the church's septic system and take a line of evergreens that provides a visual and sound barrier.

Meanwhile, opponents of the Kanuga widening project have gained the support of boards that advise the Hendersonville City Council on environmental matters and trees.

After hearing from project opponents at its Nov. 7 meeting, the Tree Board voted unanimously to recommend that the City Council oppose the Kanuga widening.

"The proposed improvements would result in the loss of an incaluculable number of trees and cause a major reduction in the city's urban canopy," the Tree Board said in a Nov. 17 memorandum to the council. The Tree Board determined that a number of trees in the path of the widening would qualify for Heritage Tree status under city ordinance. Several Kanuga Road homeowners have applied for Heritage Tree designation and more are expected to, the Tree Board said.

"The Board feels that the environmental damage caused by this project will far outweigh any benefits it might have," the memo said. "Furthermore, the board feels that an endorsement of this project by the city would not be in keeping with our status as a Tree City USA and Bee City USA."

On Nov. 16, the city Environmental Sustainability Board, after hearing from widening opponents, echoed the tree board's position and called on the City Council to continues its efforts to negotiate a compromise that would "minimize the overall footprint and environmental impact of the project."

Henderson County, Hendersonville and Flat Rock officials met last month with NCDOT engineers to hammer out compromises that would minimize the impact of the Kanuga and Highland Lake improvements.

County Commissioner Bill Lapsley, Hendersonville mayor pro tem Steve Caraker and Flat Rock Village Council member John Dockendorf proposed a separate Mud Creek greenway to replace bike lanes they want removed from the Kanuga project. On Monday night, the Henderson County Board of Commissioners agreed to apply for a grant to fund a feasibiity study of a greenway along a sewer easement from the Publix site to Erkwood Drive. The Hendersonville City Council is scheduled to discuss the greenway at its regular meeting on Thursday night.